On the rocky windblown slopes of the Gredos Mountains outside of Madrid, Las Moradas cultivates Garnacha from 50-100+ year old vines grown in old granite sand soil. These gnarled old bush vines, trained low to the ground surrounded by pine woods, holm oaks, juniper, rockrose and a wide variety of aromatic plants and other native vegetation. Dry cultivated in a climate with hot days and cold nights, organically grown with natural composting and minimal sulfur added, these terroir driven wines ferment naturally in a mixture of French and Hungarian oak under the guidance of winemaker Isabel Galindo. These wines are a pure and precise expression of both the character of Grenache as well as the soul of the land that they come from.
In the heart of the two largest and most important appellations (PDO) of Greece are the vineyards of the Nasiakos family. One is Mantinia in Arcadia and the other, the highest point on Nemea “Kotsi” in Corinth, Peleponese. Mr. Leonidas Nasiakos is the viticulturalist, wine maker and producer of his wines. Under the Nasiakos label 6,500 cases of wine are produced from indigenous varietals such as Moschofilero and Agiorgitiko. Nasiakos’ vineyard in Mantinia is 2000 feet above sea level while in Nemea over 2,700 feet. These very high elevations prolong the harvest time which ensures that sugar levels are at desirable levels.
Nasiakos Moschofilero is a wine that captures aromas of a field of fragrant flowers and a peach orchard, the pronounced flavors of dry mountain spices and the acidic tones of lemon zest.
Le Piane Maggiorina
I haphazardly visited Le Piane at a very good time. Christoph Kunzli, the brilliant winemaker and historian of his own vines, was busy with bottling before the 2018 harvest had begun. Yet he made time to drive me up winding, overgrown forest tracks in these cool sub-Alpine Northern Piemonte hills. We emerged from dense woods that used to be vineyards just 100 years ago and walked into sunlit vines older than the two of us combined. He encouraged me to try the different grapes from these rescued old family plots that he cobbled together into a vineyard. The vines were mostly Croatina and Nebbiolo but also Uva Rara, Bonarda and white grapes like Erbaluce. Some of the vines were planted so long ago that their names are no longer known. Rather than try to homogenize and streamline this incredible biodiversity, Christoph picks everything on the same day, and presses and ferments everything together. The end result is his Maggiorina: a glass of wine that contains not just incredible complexity and uniqueness of flavor but also a connection to the history and the families of a forgotten place and time.